Politics

Voting Should Be Mandatory

When you survey the wreckage of 2016, it’s easy to forget that the most seismic democratic events were brought about by minorities.

Only 37 percent of eligible Britons voted to leave the European Union. The case is even clearer in the American election, which Donald J Trump won despite having persuaded only a quarter of the American electorate to support him. Mr Trump triumphed in a low-turnout election.

As we scramble to explain the upheavals in democratic politics, we may be describing shifts that, while significant, are smaller than we think.

It’s time for democracies to adopt compulsory voting. I say this from Australia, one of about a dozen countries where people can be penalized for not voting (about a dozen more have compulsory voting on the books but don’t enforce it). We’ve done so at the federal level since 1924, following a drop in voter turnout. We’re now required by law to enrol at 18 years old (though this isn’t strictly monitored), and we’re fined if we fail to vote. Around three-quarters of Australians have consistently supported compulsory voting, and there is no meaningful movement for change.

The evidence is mixed on whether compulsory voting favours parties of the right or the left, and some studies suggest that most United States federal election results would be unchanged. But all that misses the point because it overlooks that compulsory voting changes more than the number of voters: It changes who runs for office and the policy proposals they support — redwolf.newsvine.com

Art

Who knew that the humble, utilitarian traffic light could look so haunting—and beguiling? As seen through the lens of Lucas Zimmermann, they take on an otherworldly aspect, their red, yellow, and green lights casting an altogether ghostly aura that emanates like a very basic rainbow in a dark, foggy sky.

The Weimar, Germany-based photographer is self-taught and began the series over two years ago, taking to the streets at night and training his camera on what are normally overlooked and under-appreciated objects. But with a little magic, he has manipulated them into tableaus that suggest something sinister.

The empty streets are visible just as far as the signals’ rays’ reach, exposing bare trees and minimal side-of-the-road landscaping. But beyond that, who knows what lurks? — via Curbed

Health, World

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen, says Milkman. I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.

If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical well-being of millions of kids, not to mention the coffers of healthcare agencies and broader society. It’s a big if — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Design

In Elk, California — along the state’s famed Pacific Coast Highway about three hours north of San Francisco — this gorgeously weird timber house by architect Lee Aaron Ward, a one time apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, has hit the market, and it is quite the mid century pad.

The 270 square metre house, built circa 1960, sits on a 5,400 square metre cliff top site with pretty spectacular views of the ocean. The house comprises two multi-story wings connected by a central volume, where the larger wing is the two-bed, two-bath main house; The smaller holds one-bedroom, one-bathroom guest accommodations with lofted sleeping quarters.

Where the exterior is eccentric, with its hefty, buttress-like supports, the interiors are, though still eclectic, more classically mid century modern: Wood panelled, high-ceilinged rooms and the original custom cabinetry are all still on offer. It’s quite impressive.

But perhaps the most impressive thing here are the knock-out views of the ocean, which you can take in from a number of vantage points inside the house or outdoors, on a number of decks, including a spacious one off the living room — via Curbed

Business, Food

Vegemite bought by Bega from US food giant Mondelez International

Vegemite is set to return to Australian ownership after dairy company Bega announced it would buy most of Mondelez International’s Australia and New Zealand grocery and cheese business.

Bega, in a note to the Australian Stock Exchange, said it would use bank debt to fund the $460 million acquisition.

The deal does not include Philadelphia products but will see Australian ownership of Kraft-branded products, including peanut butter, cheeses and mayonnaise — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

NSW Premier Mike Baird announces retirement

NSW Premier Mike Baird has announced his retirement from politics.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Baird said he was ready to move on from politics after 10 years in public life.

As I have reflected on the approaching halfway mark of our current term of government, and the opportunity it presents to refresh the Cabinet team, I have decided that this is the perfect time for me to hand the reins over to a new Premier, it read.

Serving as Premier of NSW has been a tremendous honour, but I have made clear from the beginning that I was in politics to make a difference, and then move on.

After 10 years in public life, this moment for me has arrived.

Mr Baird has been Premier of NSW since April 2014, taking over after Barry O’Farrell’s resignation — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Entertainment

Adidas: Break Free / Eugen Merher

Adidas is one of the largest athletic shoe companies in the world, so they have plenty of funding for their advertising campaigns and don’t need to go looking for free submissions from film students.

But Eugen Merher, a 26-year-old student film maker from Germany, decided to submit the ad he’d made for Adidas to their communications department anyway — and found his submission completely ignored.

Determined to show off his hard work despite the cold shoulder he received from Adidas he posted the ad online, where it instantly went viral and gave viewers all sorts of feels — via Youtube

Design

Have you been searching high and low for that perfect ski lodge, one that would accommodate not only your extended family and your friends, but also their extended family and friends? One that was massive, yet private, cosy, rustic, modern, and quaint? With beautiful nature vistas and amazing amenities that would ensure that no one would ever be bored in the event of a crippling, days-long blizzard?

Consider your quest over, for this incredible Colorado property, known as Aspen Grove Ranch, may be the answer to your dreams. Situated on 1,400 hectares within the 7,280 hectare shared ranch community of Grand River Ranch in Kremmling, the 2,200 square metre compound boasts a whopping 10 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms.

And that’s not all, of course. There are multiple fireplaces, enormous windows, an indoor bowling alley, separate bar room, kitchens — that’s plural, in-wall bunk beds, walk-in closets galore, sauna — not to mention the many water features of the home — plus, truly, so much more. If Aspen Grove Ranch — 15 minutes from the Kremmling Jet Aiport, and just two hours from Denver — is what you’ve been looking for, then it’s yours for the cool sum of $28,500,000 — via Curbed

Weird

Aggretsuko / Sanrio

Aggretsuko is a cute Red Panda, working as an office associate in the accounting department of a highly respected trading company. She works in one of the biggest metropolitan areas of Tokyo.

It’s always been a dream of Aggretsuko to work as an accountant, especially in this part of the city. But in reality, her bosses are unsympathetic and give her harsh deadlines. She ultimately has become a pushover within the company. When she gets pushed to the limit, she goes out after work and takes out her frustration and stress with heavy metal Karaoke sessions! — via Youtube

Politics

Catch the Fire ministries stripped of charitable status after raising funds for Rise Up Australia party

Controversial Melbourne evangelical church Catch the Fire, which solicits donations for the Rise Up Australia Party, has had its charitable status revoked by authorities.

The ministries, based in the south-eastern suburbs, have been run by Sri Lankan-born pastor Daniel Nalliah since the late 1990s.

Mr Nalliah launched the Rise up Australia party in 2013 on an anti-Islam, anti-multiculturalism platform and fielded candidates at last year’s federal election.

He openly preaches his political message from the pulpit and collects donations for the party at church services.

As a registered charity, Catch the Fire had access to Commonwealth tax concessions including GST waivers, income tax exemptions and fringe benefit tax rebates.

But the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) has now revoked its charitable status. Charities are not allowed to promote or fund political candidates — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Design

Located in South Eastern Utah, the three-bedroom, two-bath Cliff Haven sits on 12 acres and comes with all the modern amenities you’d expect—WiFi, a detached 2-car garage, and Amazon delivery, for example.

But that’s where the similarities to urban life stop. Unlike your average tract home, the 195-square-metre, energy-efficient house was built inside a cliff. Similar in colour to the stunning red rock formations in nearby Arches National Park, the cliff house lets nature take centre stage. Even the master bedroom features the red rocks as backdrop.

The property is also self-sufficient. Solar panels power the entire house, while a private well provides fresh water and a 12,000-gallon cistern collects rainwater and run off. There’s a backup diesel generator to ensure power as well.

When the original home owner built the property in 1986, they created a tunnel behind the house to help with water run off and create a natural fresh air circulation system. Throw in a vineyard, vegetable garden, and a mature orchard—think apples, peaches, cherries, and more—and you’ve got the makings of a complete off-the-grid cave castle — via Curbed

Wildlife

Cheetah Cubs Venture Outside For First Time / Longleat Safari Park

A rare pair of cheetah cubs have ventured outside for the first time at Longleat Safari Park. Thirteen-week-old cubs Poppy and Winston, who were named by the public, are the first to have been born at the Wiltshire wildlife attraction, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The pair, both still sporting Mohican-style juvenile fur, were allowed outside to explore their paddock under the watchful eye of mum Wilma — via Youtube

Design

Mejorada del Campo Cathedral / Justo Gallego Martínez

A huge cathedral with tall towers and a magnificent dome rises slowly in the municipality of Mejorada del Campo, 20 kilometres from Madrid. It seems like a common occurrence, but it is not. The building has been under construction for 50 years — brick by brick — by one man: Justo Gallego Martínez, farmer, ex-monk and a self-taught architect of 91 years of age. — via Arch Daily

Politics

President Trump: The Inauguration

After a long absence, The Twilight Zone returns with one of the most ambitious, expensive and controversial productions in broadcast history. Sci-fi writers have dabbled often with alternative history stories – among the most common is the What If The Nazis Had Won The Second World War setting — but this huge interactive virtual reality project, which will unfold on TV, in the press, and on Twitter over the next four years, sets out to build an ongoing alternative present. The story begins in a nightmarish version of 2017 in which huge sections of the US electorate have somehow been duped into voting to make Donald Trump president. It sounds far-fetched, and it is, but as it goes on it becomes more and more chillingly plausible. Today’s feature-length opener concentrates on the gaudy inauguration of President Trump, and the stirrings of protest and despair surrounding the ceremony, while pundits speculate gravely on what lies ahead. It’s a flawed piece, but a disturbing glimpse of the horrors we could stumble into, if we’re not careful — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Wildlife

Alice Springs Desert Park, in central Australia, has produced two new resident marsupials.

The Greater Bilby is currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so the birth of the two healthy little male Bilbies puts the Desert Park on the conservation front and helps ensure that the unique marsupial will survive for generations to come — via ZooBorns

Design

This is a fully functioning motorcycle with stone bodywork. It’s a 1982 Honda CX500 modified by Chris Zernia, who lives in Mendig, Germany, and is clearly one wave short of a shipwreck. The bike is Zernia’s entry into the charmingly-named Build da Fukker contest run by the German magazine Custombike. The stone is basalt, mined from the Eifel mountain range a few kilometres away from Zernia’s house. Basalt is a dense volcanic rock, and rather heavy, but it can be shaped relatively easily — via Bike EXIF

Design

UrbanCarve designed Swallow House in Yilan,Taiwan — via ArchDaily

Design

If looking good heads up your list of priorities when it comes to buying a record player, then this Ricatech wooden turntable is well worth investigating.

It looks amazing. Crafted from lacquered wood, the player shows off the natural graining, with the metal detailing very much the icing on the cake. But this isn’t just a pretty face.

It is also a three-speed, belt-drive turntable (33, 45 and 78rpm), with speakers able to unfold when needed, along with USB output for digitising to PC or Mac, an Audio Technica needle and two AC adaptors (UK and Europe). A carry handle for ease of moving too.

Classy and classic, you can get one for €169 — via Retro to Go

Design

Kengo Kimura, the master craftsman behind Heiwa MC has no shortage of orders, despite being in the midst of a shifting landscape. The 2002-model Kawasaki W650 is loaded with trademark Heiwa finishings, and dripping with Japanese style. And no one executes the slammed, thin-saddle vibe as well as Heiwa — via Bike EXIF

Design

Murphy House / Richard Murphy Architects

The Royal Institute of British Architects’ 2016 House of the Year is the Murphy House, by Richard Murphy Architects. Built as the architect’s personal residence in Edinburgh, the playful, truly whimsical home, with its eclectic façade and unique profile, is also modular and adaptive to different seasons of the year.

Built on a small plot of land, the home has a footprint measuring just 11 by six metres and a floorspace of 165 square metres spread over an impressive five stories that encompass three bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining area, study, basement, garage, utility room, and a roof terrace.

The dramatic, sloping roof is outfitted with solar panels and can be opened up in warmer weather, creating an outdoor space inside the home. Described as one of the jury members as a “box of tricks,” the residence features plenty of other surprises including pulleys, shutters, sliding doors, bookshelves whose backs double as window coverings, a secret mail receptacle, hidden bathtub, and so much more, making it the ultimate fun house — via Curbed

Business

American Apparel is sold at auction to Canada’s Gildan Activewear

For years, American Apparel proudly touted its Made in Los Angeles motto. With its sale Tuesday to a Canadian sportswear firm, neither American Apparel’s name nor its motto will ring so true.

Gildan Activewear agreed to pay $88 million in a winning auction bid for the American Apparel brand and some manufacturing equipment, the company said Tuesday. The deal for American Apparel, which filed for bankruptcy in November for the second time, still requires approval from a Delaware bankruptcy court judge Thursday.

Gildan did not buy any of the company’s 110 retail stores in the US. Those stores are likely to close within a few months, analysts said.

Glenn Chamandy, chief executive of Gildan, said that American Apparel will be a strong complementary addition to its portfolio.

We see strong potential to grow American Apparel sales, he said in a statement. There is potential to drive further market share penetration in the fashion basics segment both in North America and internationally.

Gildan may keep some warehouse and manufacturing operations in Los Angeles, but analysts said that the vast majority of American Apparel factory workers in the Southland will be out of a job. In December, American Apparel notified nearly 3,500 Southland employees that they may lose their jobs. The message went to 332 workers in Garden Grove, 959 workers in South Gate and 2,166 workers at the company’s sprawling headquarters in downtown Los Angeles — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Design

If you’re looking for a groovy cabin retreat, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more, shall we say, atmospheric than this unusual creation in Snohomish, Washington. Designed by architect David Turner in 1976, the three-bedroom home is located on a bluff 48 km north-east of Seattle, surrounded by valley and river views.

Sitting on a woodsy six-acre property, the 170-square-metre abode comprises two heavily glazed pyramids connected by a matching pyramid-esque atrium/greenhouse. Bring your imagination, your contractor and/or roll up your sleeves, the listing urges. Indeed, the place could use some updates, notably where the shingle siding and kitchen are concerned. But with a huge fireplace surrounded by snug seating and plenty of full-height windows to admire nature from inside, this hand crafted abode seems like a cool place to hunker down — via Curbed

Craft

Lime Bast Rope / Silje Ensby

Making a rope from lime bast, the way it’s been done for over a thousand years in Norway.

Ropemaker Ingunn Undrum and boatbuilding apprentice Dennis Bayer head out to harvest the bark of lime trees (linden tree), in the spring when the sap is rising.

The paper thin layers of bast are glued together, and need to soak for a long time in the sea to separate. The water in the Hardanger fjord is cold even during summer, so the bark is soaking until fall, for 3-4 months.

Ropemaker Sarah Sjøgreen lays the bast rope, and makes a traditional carrying rope with three strands, for transporting the cut grass during hay making season. The bast is naturally water proof, and rots very slowly compared to other rope materials. This explains why it has been found intact in viking excavations dating back to the 800s.

The video was recorded by Silje Ensby at Hardanger Maritime Centre, a centre for historic ship preservation, located in Hardanger, Norway — via Vimeo

Design

A well-preserved mid century perched above a gorgeous, glimmering lake? A thousand times yes! This incredible Oregon retreat by Oswego Lake’s North Shore was built in 1965 and features five bedrooms and four baths over 585 square metres and multiple levels, all of the glorious walls of windows, built-ins, and time-capsule-esque details, and, of course, the spectacular views.

Parquet floors, wood-panelling, carved doors, dramatic, sloped-and-beamed ceilings, period kitchen (enhanced with modern appliances, natch), Japanese-style light fixtures and screens, in-floor stone bath, and a mini, hearth-facing conversation pit are just a few of the delights that make this property sing. Not to mention the vast balcony, dock, and boat house. Imagine all of the outdoor and entertaining possibilities—and live them out, too, for a cool $4,998,000. It’s located at 15530 Diamond Head Road — via Curbed

Design

The lads from Portugal’s Ton-Up Garage are self-confessed petrol heads who love anything with an engine. That love shows through with their newest release, a low and lean Triumph Bonneville called HotRod. It’s our interpretation of the crazy years between the 30s and the 50s, the guys tell us. The golden era of hot-rodding — via Bike EXIF

Design

Gorgeously remodelled and updated, this covetable property in Orange, California’s Fairhills Eicher tract is on the market for the first time since its original sale in 1964. Designed by A Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons, the four-bedroom boasts a rare floor plan that was featured in only eight models in the city and includes a two-car garage and car port.

Now fully remodelled, the 2,000-square-foot home has a newly painted blue-grey façade accented by a horizontal strip of green that sets the tone for the rest of the residence. An expansive great room characterized by a beamed ceiling, stone fireplace, and new flooring seamless connects, by way of a wall of windows, to a replastered pool and stone patio outside.

A sleek new kitchen with quartz counter tops and the latest appliances, completely redone bathrooms, and new skylights are just a few of the home’s upgrades. As for what was left untouched, the aggregate flooring in the entryway and security buzzer are truly original. Located at 1070 North Granada Drive, it’s asking just under a million at $985,000 — via Curbed

Food

Ribbon Candy / Lofty Pursuits

Public displays of Confection use a very old ribbon candy machine to finally make some nice ribbon candy just before Christmas 2016. This batch was cherry, but they’ve made tutti frutti, and peppermint too. Lofty Pursuits makes candy on equipment made from the late 1800’s until the modern day. They concentrate on finding and restoring old candy equipment and re-learning the dying art of hard candy making — via Youtube

Craft

Unique looking fairy tale felt cat cave made from soft spring green colours with darker green and yellow — via Etsy